What kind of ballon is this?!?

I saw this a couple hours ago at sunset. We were shooting guns on the Utah/Arizona state line, just getting ready to leave when something caught my eye while looking up at a passing airliner. At first I thought it was a planet but looked to big and bright. We watched for several minutes with binoculars when we decided to race home and get the telescope set up. We only viewed for another 10 minutes before it finally went dark. I attached a frame from a video I shot looking through the telescope showing the blinking lights. It was hardly moving any, if at all. If it really was at 60-65k feet… the thing must have been huge!


There are many different flavors of HIBAL projects (high altitude balloons). Unless you can find the specific reference to a specific project, it seems difficult to track down what the purpose of the balloon is. I’ve seen them a couple of times in the NM deserts. Sometimes you can find a HIBAL NOTAM about them if you catch them when they are flying.
Here is the Wikipedia page for the Google Project Loon. At the bottom of the article there are links to other uses of high altitude balloons and tons of references.


And, great pictures, by the way!